Yesterday some kid named "Stephany" born in the nineties wrote a Facebook message to fellow members of Princeton Class of 2012, and now we have her picture. (There's another after the jump!) Inspired by its imagery (ripped condoms! bloody lips!) but also by its flawed underlying assumption that anyone gives a shit where you went to college, we crafted our own letter, to all the young people who ever went to college, as part of what we plan to make a regular feature, Tough Love. Dear Young Folks, you know that saying "We don't care about the young folks?" Of course you do, you're young! But it's not really true. I care deeply about Kids Today, especially since it has started to come to my realization that everyone in Generation X hates you! I mean, even if we actually love you, we hate your blog, that you pretend you know everything even as it so rarely seems to occur to you that there is stuff you can't learn on Google, that you have so much misplaced self-confidence, and that when something makes you insecure we get the sense it is the first time you ever felt insecure about that thing and that makes us feel old.
To that end, there's a few things you should know, starting with how we feel about college, and where you attended. There are numerous other things you should know, and you can even feel free to ask questions if the inspiration strikes you, but don't worry, I'm not expecting you to pretend you don't know it all for a second. I'm basically writing this for the sake of my demographic anyway, because, Jesus Christ, sometimes your generation makes mine want to start a MySpace suicide pact. Only that would just be so you of us. You know what I could give a shit about? Where you went to college! I might ask you where you went so I can fine-tune my expectations about the magnitude of the "sense of entitlement" I expect you to embody, but I don't really want to know, so don't let the conversation come around to that. It's not like I'm actually curious about you. Look, curiosity is one of the 10 great endangered virtues in this town, and having toiled to cultivate a small crop of it despite the terrible handicap that is living here, I've learned to be reflexively incurious about most people who hang out in the places I drink, but I have earned the right to not be curious about you. You should think on that for a second, because in saying it I am also advising you to harbor intense — though wholly unexpressed, know your place — suspicions about anyone older than you who professes to be curious about you (i.e. if you don't end up having sex with them within a couple of hours they are probably too nice/pathetic to ever be particularly powerful.) But anyway, say we've gotten past that point. Say I already asked you, and you tell me where you went. Perhaps it might help you to know what my assumption is. College in the news angle Say your college is in the news. Then we don't have to talk about what I am supposed to think you think this says about you. Oh, you went to Brandeis, so did that crazy terrorist lady who tried to shoot up those intelligence officers in Afghanistan, what about that? Duke: so you sorta regret reporting your date rape too? Etc. etc. College In New York Angle Oh lord, you went to NYU/Columbia/New School/Pratt/one of those colleges I always forget is actually in town because it's not like I walk the streets thinking, "Ooooh, how much you wanna bet those kids went to Hunter?" I am expecting you to have years of subsidized experience living and drinking and interning and amassing anecdotal evidence that "Gentrification: It's not a figment of your imagination!" about which you are eager to converse, so be a dear, pretend you are planning on leaving town for a few months so you can find out what it's like to be a real person a la Jessica Roy, and just straight-up give me an honest answer to the matter of can you get me drugs. Lesser Ivy Angle Oh, thank the deities, a lesser Ivy Leaguer. So you have spent four years and $160,000 tethering your identity, reputation and sense of self-worth to an institution with no hope of ever fostering any sort of genuine intellectual or otherwise culture because it is too preoccupied with all the relentless comparisons to Harvard. Yay, another absurdist. Harvard/Yale Angle Yikes! I think the only way to really handle this one is to never lose your sense of bafflement that there are places so simultaneously insular and inculcated in their own sense of self-regard that some of the most intelligent people in the country can go there to teach and wind up like this guy. (Who not only doesn't have anything worth saying to his plumber, he doesn't realize that he doesn't have anything worth saying — at all!) But don't talk about said bafflement! Just say something like, "Yale, but don't be intimidated, my SAT score was only 1340*and that was untimed." One of those colleges where there are no grades or whatever Angle See "College in New York" angle, last sentence. State school Angle I will expect you want to partake in all sorts of cultural offerings of which you have been so unjustly deprived the past twentyodd years at least until March Madness comes around, and as long as you don't live in Bushwick I will find this charming. For about two more years! Canadian angle The problem with Canada is that you have all these flawed assumptions about how Americans perceive you, as in you think we feel guilty about not knowing anything about the customs and inner workings of a foreign country one fifth as populous as Bangladesh, or that the fact that you assume your travails getting a work visa will inspire our sympathy — ummmm like, hey read this! — and you never see it from our perspective, as in "Yeah, I have about as much sympathy for you as I do for someone who grew up in Portland, but with universal health care and never having to say you're American." Historically black Angle Look, I'm not going to act like I meet a lot of you in the Manhattan media scene, but on the occasion that I have it has always been a pleasant experience and if you are looking for extra credit see what it would take to arrange Stephany as your next commencement speaker. *Yeah, fuck you, I'm old, that was the point.